iOS 6: What You Need to Know

The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system has been released, and is available to download for your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch right now. Apple calls iOS “the world’s most advanced mobile operating system,” and trumpets the inclusion of more than 200 new features, including new maps and Siri for the iPad.

Here’s an overview of how to get iOS 6 onto your device, and some of the key new features it contains.

Installation

This part is easy, and it can be performed in two ways; either by connecting to iTunes and following the instructions, or by visiting the “software update” menu under Settings on the device itself. The latter is far quicker, as it downloads only the new information, but you’ll need to have a Wi-Fi connection, and a power source is recommended, before you start.

As always, it’s worthwhile having a recent backup on your computer before you start updating, just in case you need to go back to the previous version.

The whole process should be done in 30 – 45 minutes. Some early adopters of iOS 6 discovered a Wi-Fi issue once the upgrade was complete, where iOS wouldn’t stay connected, but this has since been rectified by Apple.

Key New Features You Need to Try Out

Maps

This is the big new feature in iOS 6 for the iPhone, and it has become quite the controversial subject since release, despite that being less than 24 hours ago. Apple has replaced Google Maps with its own version, and although TomTom provides location data, many think it’s a step backwards in functionality and coverage.

It offers turn-by-turn navigation though, plus a 3D view and a zoom (although neither are very good), plus local traffic, reviews and points-of-interest. This aside, it should be considered a work in progress at this time.

Siri

Apple’s virtual assistant has been given a range of new topics and subjects to talk about, plus he/she can perform a variety of new tasks too. Siri has been given control over Maps, plus open apps, updates to your Twitter status and in the near future, will directly integrate with certain car’s entertainment/phone systems too.

Questions about some sports, restaurants and movie times will be answered, and Siri will make its debut appearance on the iPad too.

Do Not Disturb, Call Back Messages

This is a great feature for those who don’t turn their phones off at night, but don’t want to be disturbed by notifications, as you can set a time where the phone mutes itself and stops the screen from lighting up. Multiple calls from the same number will still come through, and exceptions can be added.

When a phone call comes in on iOS 6, you’ll be given the chance to ignore the call with a text message, and to save a missed call as a location-aware reminder, ready for when you leave home or the office.

Mail and Safari

Apple Mail gets a VIP section, just like the one seen in Mac OS X Mountain Lion, while Safari syncs with iCloud to replicate desktop Safari’s open tabs, plus there’s an offline reading list to save articles for those annoying times without a data connection.

Facebook Integration

Twitter’s integration with iOS 5 was only the beginning, as Facebook has now been added in the same way. Now, photos you take with the iPhone can be shared instantly from the Photos app, and Facebook events including birthdays, will be added to the Calendar app.

Game Center Challenges

Game Center hasn’t changed much, so it’s a good thing the Challenges feature is interesting. Inside a compatible game, bring up Game Center and select “challenge friends”, then choose a friend from the list and dare them to beat your best score or earn achievements. Game Center has struggled with its social side, and this should help it become a little more popular.

Passbook

The only new standard app with iOS 6 is Passbook, a virtual wallet that in the future, will store coupons, tickets, store cards and more, so you no longer need to carry the physical item. That’s the plan anyway, but at the moment very few companies have signed up to use it, and some of those that have are only relevant to the USA.

App Store

Apple has refurbished the App Store especially for iOS 6, and it now has a cleaner, more modern look designed to help mobile users discover new apps. There’s also more information included on individual app pages, and entering your password to download free apps is no longer required.
Elsewhere in iOS 6, you’ll also find FaceTime now works over 3G as well as Wi-Fi (depending on your network), pictures stored in your Photo Stream can be shared with friends, access to the phone for people with disabilities has been improved and finally, a panorama mode has been added to the camera.

iOS 6 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, new iPad and the 4th generation iPod Touch. It’s available to download now.

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